5500+ Scientists call on European Commission to Defend the EU Water Law | WWF
5500+ Scientists call on European Commission to Defend the EU Water Law

Posted on 10 December 2019

In CEE countries there is still unique natural heritage to preserve, as well as places to restore in order to bring back what has been lost.
6 December 2019 (Brussels) - Scientists and academics concerned by the dire state of European rivers, lakes and wetlands have released a statement calling on the EU to fully implement and enforce its own water law - the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) - in order to halt and reverse the catastrophic decline in the world’s freshwater biodiversity. The statement describes the WFD as a critical tool for ensuring that Europe has “healthy and resilient freshwater bodies to support people and nature, today and in the future,” and draws attention to the law’s “holistic approach” to water management. Twelve scientific bodies representing over 5,200 scientists, and nearly 500 individual scientists specialising in the wide array of species impacted by the WFD have endorsed the statement – including many from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
 
Prominent signatories include Dr. Jörg Freyhof, Regional Chair, IUCN/WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, and Professor Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Director of Swansea University’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research. The statement was released alongside an op-ed for Euractiv by Professor Steven Weiss, a freshwater biodiversity expert at the University of Graz, also one of the statement’s signatories.
 
If no change is made to land-use and water management practices, resilience and biodiversity will further decrease and the social and economic situation will worsen. In CEE countries there is still unique natural heritage to preserve, as well as places to restore in order to bring back what has been lost. Politicians and relevant stakeholders including water managers and farmers, local governments, hydropower and navigation sectors, and environmentalists must all work together in order to find integrated solutions  for the benefit of the economy, society and the environment. For this, the Water Framework Directive gives a proper basis and opportunity." - Laurice Ereifej, Freshwater Practice Lead, WWF Central and Eastern Europe
 
The Danube Basin is home to more than 7,000 water-dependent plant and animal species (2,000 vascular plants, 40+ mammals, around 100 fish species) including the iconic sturgeons and bird species like white tailed eagles, black storks and Dalmatian pelicans. Some 80% of the floodplains and wetlands of the Danube and main tributaries have been lost, and with them significant populations of fish and wildlife as well as other ecosystem services such as water purification, climate resilience and increased the risks for public and private sector. Climate change and unsustainable land-use and water infrastructure development are placing increasing pressure on water resources.
 
The scientists’ statement is released as the European Commission is in the final stages of a standard evaluation of the WFD - known as a “fitness-check” - which is designed to assess whether the law is still relevant and “fit for purpose.” The final conclusions of this evaluation are expected next week.
 
 “EU Member States and business lobbies have been using the fitness-check of the Water Framework Directive to push for weaker environmental standards. The European Commission’s silence has been deafening, and it has continued to allow the impact of the WFD to be gutted by poor implementation and abuse of exemptions. We hope this massive call from thousands of scientists acts as a final wake-up call for the Commission: This law is the right tool to protect Europe’s rivers, any watering down of it would put the European Green Deal in serious jeopardy.” - Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at  WWF’s European Policy Office
 
READ STATEMENT
 
Contact:
Irene Lucius
Regional Conservation Director,
WWF Central and Eastern Europe
ilucius@wwfcee.org, Tel: +43 1 52 45 470 19 
 
Alexandra Chevalier 
Communications,
WWF European Policy Office
achevalier@wwf.eu Tel: +32 48449 4354
 
Claire Baffert
Senior Water Policy Officer
WWF European Policy Office
cbaffert@wwf.eu  Tel: +32 49273 1092
 
Some of the scientists from Central and Eastern Europe include:                     
  • Relu Constantin Giuca,  University of Bucharest, Research Centre for Systems Ecology and Sustainability (UB-RCSES), Romania       
  • Mihai Adamescu, University of Bucharest, Research Centre for Systems Ecology and Sustainability (UB-RCSES), Romania         
  • Alexandru Bănăduc, University of Sibiu, Romania          
  • Doru Bănăduc, University of Sibiu, Romania                
  • Virgil Iordache, University of Bucharest, Romania
  • Elena Preda, University of Bucharest, Romania
  • Vladimir Kovac, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Slovakia
  • Dr.Emília Mišíková Elexová, Water Research Institute, committee member of the Slovak Limnological Society, Slovakia
  • Dr.Jozef Oboňa, Department of Ecology, Faculty of Humanities and Natural Sciences, University of Prešov, Slovakia           
  • Dr.Peter Manko, Vice Dean for International Relations, Development and Quality Assurance, University of Presov, Faculty of Humanities and Natural Sciences, Slovakia  
  • Dr.Marek Svitok, Technical University, Faculty of Ecology and Environmental Sciences in Zvolen Slovakia                      
  • Dr.Fedor Čiampor, Plant Science and Biodiversity Center, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia
  • Dr.Jakub Fedorčák, Faculty of Humanities and Natural Sciences, University of Prešov, Slovakia
  • Dr.Ladislav Hamerlík, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Matthias Belius University, Slovakia
  • Dr.Milan Novikmec, Faculty of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Technical University in Zvolen, Slovakia
  • Dr.Igor Kokavec, Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia             
  • Matej Žiak, Slovak National Musem in Martin, Slovakia 
  • Dr.Pavol Beracko, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Slovakia            
  • Ing. Katarína Holubová, PhD., Head of the Hydrology and River Morphology Department, Water Research Institute, Slovakia                     
  • Prof.Peter Bitušík, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Matthias Belius University, Slovakia                
  • Ing. Lenka Bobuľská, PhD., Department of Ecology, Faculty of Humanities and Natural Sciences, University of Presov, Slovakia
  • prof.PaedDr. Ján Koščo, PhD., University of Presov, School of Human and Natural Sciences, Slovakia
  • prof. Ing. Jozef Vilček, PhD., University of Presov, Faculty of Human and Natural Sciences, Slovakia
  • doc.Martin Hromada, PhD., University of Presov, Faculty of Human and Natural Sciences, Slovakia
  • Mgr. Tomáš Pasternák, PhD.,   The University of Prešov, Department of Geography and Applied Geoinformatics, Slovakia          
  • Prof. Dr. Martina Zvaríková, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Slovakia
  • Silviya Stoyanova, PhD, Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, Bulgaria
  • Béla Munkácsy, Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Science, Hungary
The Danube Basin is home to more than 7,000 water-dependent plant and animal species.
© WWF